How And Why The Senate Won't Change

Talk has percolated over the past few weeks of reforming Senate rules--finding some way to get around the 60-vote cloture requirement, and possibly to do away with "holds"--as Democrats have publicly lamented their inability to accomplish the big items on their agenda (thanks largely to the campaign they lost in Massachusetts).

There are a few ideas for how to change Senate procedure--one being Sen. Tom Harkin's (D-IA) proposal to set expiration dates for filibusters, with the 60-vote threshold diminishing eventually to 51 as the days go by--but it's not too likely that any serious reforms will happen. But the options and unlikelihoods abound, and Slate's Christopher Beam runs through all the ways Democrats could--but won't--be able to change the rules of the Senate. Two fundamental problems seem to exist: changing Senate rules takes 67 votes (if you can't get 60, how do you get 67?), and senators actually like their power to obstruct, even if they're in the majority for now.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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